Friday, November 11, 2011

Fall sweet potato cake

Italy is facing a debt crisis.

Our scandal-plagued Prime Minister, as the New York Times defines him, has promised to finally step down.

Local news + a job in finance + Q3 reporting season= pretty crazy days in the office.

Not much time to enjoy the unseasonably warm weather and autumn sunshine (that followed the copious amounts of destructive rain).

Yet I love the fall with its orange and yellow hues and its promise of the approaching holiday season. I thoroughly enjoy those first soups and stews, a warm cup of tea to warm my hands after biking back from work in the crisp air.

I have been buying pumpkins, sweet potatoes and eyeing chestnuts at the supermarket.  The other day I was tempted not to make my daughter taste her food, a rule in our household, before pushing away her helping of oven roasted sweet potatoes, so eager was I to bite into that crispy salty exterior and that pillowy, sweet interior. I mean, what kid does not like sweet potatoes? I knew I had to come up with another way to use up the second huge sweet potato I had bought, another way to lure my daughter and her father into enjoying this particular ingredient. My son didn’t need convincing. That a-boy!

That is how this sweet potato cake was born. It is moist, it has a lovely crumb. It is filled with the smells and flavors of this season. We get white sweet potatoes here, but if you make it with the orange variety, you will get the color of fall too. You can drizzle it with glaze or keep it simple like I did. With every bite, you will feel like you are walking down a New England road, the rustle of colored leaves underfoot, a canopy of flaming orange and red above your head. This recipe makes a big cake that keeps perfectly for a week, so you can take a walk through the blazing foliage every morning before you start your day, wherever you are.

Oh, I didn't convince my daughter (although she loved the batter) but F loved the cake and so did my son. You can't win 'em all!

2 cups brown sugar
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups fresh/canned sweet potatoes 
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs
3 cups flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt

If you are using fresh sweet potatoes, like I did, put them in boiling water and let them cook until tender.
Preheat oven to 350° F/175°C). Grease and flour a 10 inch tube/Kugelhopf pan.
Sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy and then add the sweet potato puree and vanilla extract. Beat the mixture until well blended. Add the eggs one at a time and then the flour mixture. Beat at low speed until combined. Put the batter into your baking pan. Bake for a little over an hour, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool cake in the pan for a while and then turn onto a serving dish.

Adapted from here.


  1. Ah, pumpkin cake! I've been thinking about making one. Yours is perfect! But sadly I have no little elf to help me. And congrats on your Prime Minister stepping down! Finally! Time to eat more cake to celebrate!

  2. This looks lovely. I've seen lots of recipes using bundt tins recently and think I may have to buy makes the simplest cakes and bakes look so elegant and inviting. Love the batter eating pictures too...licking the bowl is always the best bit of baking!

  3. I have never had a sweet potato cake before, but it looks so moist and delicious. The perfect cake to have with a cup of tea! :-) I hope you have some left to celebrate... ;-)

  4. Love the cake and the photos of the kiddo slurping that spatula! Very precious!

  5. My friend...what a wonderful post. I so enjoyed seeing that preciuos little one enjoying that batter! This cake looks so good. Thank you for sharing such a tempting treat! And thank you for your kind words on my own blog. They meant so much! Blessings as the week unfolds.

  6. Ahh you're painting a glorious picture of Fall! And yes we've been hearing all about Berlusconi here too! I'd rather read about this cake though ;)

  7. Jamie - judging your creations, you don't need little helpers!
    LL - a bundt tin makes any cake look nicer, especially the simple kind. I agree. The only reason I don't use it too often is that it makes massive cakes.
    Manu - I personally didn't think the potatoes would keep it that moist. It was quite a discovery.
    ToB - thanks.
    Monet - both my kids usually prefer the batter to the actual cake. Need to be real careful what I eggs I buy!
    Lorraine - I couldn't agree more, cake is much more interesting.

  8. OK, I need to make this! My kids love sweet potatoes and the ingredients and texture looks just wonderful! A cake like this can almost make all those other issues go away, if only for a while. xo

  9. Those photos are so precious that it hurts. Love the idea of putting sweet potato in cake (but you're right, roasted is sublime- and for me the best is with a little burnt butter and natural yogurt over the top)

  10. First of all, oh heavens, sweet potatoes are probably my favorite food, ( I had a baked one with dinner tonight -- heaven!) and this sounds delicious. Of course it helps to have such a rousing recommendation from a little mouth!

    Second, whereabouts in Italy do you live, if you don't mind my asking? I just bought plane tickets for my first trip there (!) and would love any/all recommendations you might have for food/wine/sights, and especially coffee!

    Mind if I pick your brain? My e-mail is meister@thenervouscook, if you'd be amenable.

  11. When I was a child I often had sweet potatoes for 'merenda' in this season. My mother boiled them and served them with jam. They were an unfamiliar ingredient, and I never thought of actually cooking with them until I moved abroad. I have yet to use them in a cake though and this looks like a great starting point. Well done for cycling in Milan - I always thought it was the ideal way to move there, since it is so flat, but isn't it dangerous..


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